When Creston Presbyterian Church started participating in Appalachia Service Project (ASP) in 1982, three volunteers made the trip to help the poverty-stricken area.
The following year, it grew to five and has continued to grow to more than 50 volunteers in 2013 because of the effort of Creston Chamber of Commerce Volunteer Leadership Award winner Becky Riley.
Riley, who has dedicated 33 years of service as a teacher and literacy coach for Creston preschool and elementary, started volunteer work through ASP as a youth in her hometown Washington, Iowa.
“As a youth, I learned that I could actually make a difference,” Riley said. “When you’re a kid, you don’t realize you have the power to help somebody else.”
ASP’s focus is to make living conditions warmer, safer and drier. As a leader in the program, Riley has worked on floor replacements, siding and roofing.
“My priorities changed a lot from wanting to go and do it all to get the youth going,” Riley said. “The reason I go is to take kids from Creston so they can have that experience.”
Volunteers do not have to have experience with the construction projects ASP completes. Riley, along with other leaders, help teach youth volunteers how to use the tools.
The goal is to help the youths feel apart of making a difference in the Appalachian area and learn life skills to help themselves and others.
In the Creston area, Riley and ASP volunteers partner with the Creston Historical Complex to complete projects and fundraise. When the complex is hired to do a project, ASP members agree to do the labor.
During the past summer, Riley and other church members helped make lunches for Creston kids during the five-week gap between the summer lunch program and the start of the new school year.
“Every volunteer is driven by a passion,” Riley said. “I just want to honor Jesus, and thank Him for all the blessings I have been given by loving others the best way I know how.”
Riley has worked with Special Olympic events in the past and helps fundraise for mission trips for the program “One for Christ.”
She said her family has provided support for her passion to volunteer. Her daughters — Brittany and Kelsey — joined Riley on ASP trips. Her husband Ron and son Adam are also active with her church projects.
Volunteer Leadership Award
Darlene Loudon — 1995
Pat Pokorny — 1996
Creston FFA — 1997
Mycale Downey — 1999
Lesa Downing — 2000
Mike and June Baker — 2001
Vaughn Seckington — 2002
Dr. Richard Wilker — 2003
Bob Jungst — 2004
Marcella Howe — 2005
Butch Miller — 2006
Creston Park and Rec Board — 2007
Chris Mansour — 2008
Breta Kinkade — 2009
Mike Linch — 2010
Dick Anderson — 2011
Jim and Rhonda Giles — 2012
Becky Riley — 2013